Flexible fitness is a growing trend
Your employee wellness program may include a class pass to a local gym, but what happens if it’s not a class or gym that holds your interest? It would be great if you could customize your fitness to suit your needs, which is why Ed J. Buckley III and a group of other fitness enthusiasts from the University of Florida created Peerfit, the No. 1 personalized fitness program in line with workplace wellness. Buckley talked to Black Health Matters about how Peerfit works and why it’s shooting straight to the top of the flexible fitness trend.
Black Health Matters: What is peerfit? Why should we check it out?
Ed J. Buckley III: Peerfit is a flexible pass to attend all the best fitness studios. There are flexible fitness passes—a class pass—but with them, everyone pays the same, and they often restrict how often you can go to certain places. In the past, insurance companies or employers have provided a class pass and said, “you have to go to a big box gym.” We said let’s unbundle it. We said why don’t we let consumers pick out what they want to do? It’s basically a piggy bank of credits you can use. You can choose how big your piggy bank is and you can change that every month. We’re not just another fitness membership; we’re a totally new way to incentivize memberships and fitness.
Put it this way: I don’t have to watch “The Blacklist” on Thursday night. I can binge-watch five episodes on Saturday. That’s what this is. We want fitness to mirror all the other aspects of your life.
Why did you create Peerfit?
Buckley: Being active has amazing effects on your body. And we wanted to build solutions for diverse populations. From a public health perspective, let’s help more than just the white middle-class soccer mom who goes to fitness studios. The African-American population has one-third higher rates of inactivity. African-American youth have double the rates of inactivity as white youth. That’s a problem. What we’ve been doing is not working. We shouldn’t have a cookie-cutter approach. Everyone should be able to do what they’re passionate about.
What’s been the response?
Buckley: Going into this a year ago, everybody said this is just going to be a solution for middle-class women who go to yoga studios. But it has been the most breathtaking experience. To watch people who are 40, 50, 60 years old, people who haven’t been to the gym in five, 10, 15 years, who haven’t been active, flocking to this. For once, someone is speaking to them and saying, “I care what you care about. Do you want to go to a dance class? A yoga studio? Do you want to try boxing?
Where is Peerfit available?
Buckley: In Florida it’s currently in six different markets: Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlanda, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Sarasota. We wanted to be very systematic about making sure we’re giving people the best experiences. We’re seeing overwhelming success on the community level, not just from employers and insurers. So we’re starting to open it up across the country.
In 2016, we’re starting with Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta. By summertime 2016, we should have strong coverage over the Southeast. That’s the other part: This pass works in other cities. I can take a class in Orlando today and then in Miami tomorrow; [when the program expands next year] you can use your credits in D.C. today and then fly to Houston tomorrow and use them there.
Why do you think Peerfit has been such a success?
Buckley: We’re the only ones who have approached personalization. In the past, we’ve [done the equivalent of] handing everyone a Blackberry when they want an iPhone. If you give someone a higher-quality product, you’ll see more people who don’t traditionally use that service start using it.